Heart of the City's Regeneration
Newtown, situated in the inner-city of Johannesburg, is an area that has regenerated and reinvented itself which literally brought the whole city alive. It is a bustling suburb, located just over the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge, and has become one of the first suburbs in its own to be a tourist attraction.
There is so much to do in the area. Hop on a bus, get in your car or take a taxi and get to Newtown, an entire precinct dedicated to arts and cultural activities. Visitors can enjoy art galleries, museums, restaurants, book stores, craft markets, clubs and cafés. Newtown is also home to the renowned Market Theatre, which played such an important role in South African theatre during the apartheid era. The old run down Edwardian market hall was converted into a cultural arena that provided a platform for some of the country’s best actors and playwrights and which was committed to non-racial theatre right from 1974. A trip to Newtown is not complete without a visit to the Theatre and some of the other nightlife spots which lend themselves to the eclectic, multicultural, artistic reputation of the area.
There is something happening day and night, and especially on weekends as it is home to some of Joburg’s biggest events – think Jazz festivals, Dance Umbrella, Arts Alive and Fashion Week to name a few. Newtown’s central point, Mary Fitzgerald Square, also plays host to a number of local and international performers and once even had Madiba himself speak from here.
When exploring Newtown keep your eyes peeled for plaques, monuments, museums and heritage tours – the area is bursting with history!
Places to Visit
Things to do and see
- Nelson Mandela Bridge
- SAB World of Beer
- Museum Africa
- Workers Museum
- The Market Theatre
- Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
- Brenda Fassie Memorial
- The Firewalker
- Afronova Art Gallery
- Market on Main
- Mary Fitzgerald Square
- Newtown Junction
- Work Shop Newtown
- 1Fox Food Market Shed
- Newtown Park
- Sophiatown Bar Lounge
Newtown, Johannesburg experiences its rainfall in the summer months, with December and January seeing the highest levels.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 12˚C and 26˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 3˚C and 19˚C.
There are Domestic and International flights into Johannesburg’s O R Tambo International Airport and Lanseria International Airport on a daily basis. Bus services, the Gautrain, taxis and car rental companies are available for easy access around the area.
Newtown originally started out as a racially mixed working-class district where bricks were being manufactured. Working class people of all races continued to live in the area until 1906 when the Johannesburg City Council forcibly removed the African and Indian residents from the area. This was the first forced removals to take place in Gauteng. African were moved to Klipspruit, the first area that was to become Soweto, and the displaced Indian residents were moved to Pageview.
The Town Council renamed the area Newtown and erected a Power Station along with opening a fresh produce market, a Mill and an Abattoir. Newtown continued to be a place where workers lived, worked and even protested. Two significant strikes in the area where the Tramway strike of 1911 and the Wage Campaign Strike in 1918.
Another drastic change came in the 1970’s when the Power Station and the Market were relocated and Newtown became the new home of Johannesburg’s aspirant artists, actors and musicians. The Market Theatre moved into the old market building and Museums started opening up in the vicinity. Today, apart from the Museums and Market Theatre, the Newtown precinct is full of trendy clubs, bars, new markets and jazz clubs.